So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
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Augustine of Hippo
This particular number of generations, totaling forty, is a sign of that laborious period in which, under the discipline of Christ the King, we will continue to fight against the devil. The same number was foreshadowed in both the law and the prophets, who had already solemnized a fast of forty days for the humbling of the soul (this pattern was firmly set in the narratives of Moses and Elijah, each of whom fasted for forty days). The Gospel narrative itself then again foreshadowed this same number in the fast of the Lord himself, during his forty days of temptation by the devil. What else does this narrative show than that condition of temptation which pertains to us through all the space of this age? Christ bore this temptation in the flesh when he condescended to take upon himself our own mortality. Add to this also that after his resurrection, it was his will to remain with his disciples on the earth not longer than forty days. During this time he continued to mingle his resurrected life with theirs in the form of human intercourse. He shared with them food, which mortals need for life, even though he himself would never die. All this was done with the view of signifying to them through these forty days that although his presence would be later hidden from their eyes, he would yet fulfill what he promised when he said, “I am with you, even to the end of the world.” There may be other and subtler methods of accounting for the length of this age, but the most apparent anticipations within the natural order of this number are the seasons of the years, which revolve in four successive alternations. Note also the fact that the world itself has its bounds determined by four divisions (which Scripture sometimes designates by the names of the winds, east and west, north or south). The number forty then is four times the cyclecompleting number ten. The number ten, of course, is itself made up by adding one, two, three and four together. .